Never mind, “new year, new you”; more like “new year, new places to try”. Below are some of the top new restaurants and bars that opened throughout Greater Des Moines in the past year, as voted by locals. Consider us your personal dining out trainer.
We’ll tell anyone who will listen that the Beaverdale neighborhood is underrated, and the addition of Parlor pizzeria has done nothing to diminish our case. Specializing in Detroit-style pizza – think focaccia-like pan style crust with cheese that spreads to the edges of the pan, creating a delicious crispy/chewy dichotomy – Parlor features adventurous flavor combinations like the Sussudio (sausage, mushroom, chimichurri) and I am the Walrus (bacon, sausage, potato, egg, and ricotta). The ambience is decidedly hip for a pizza place, with a rocking soundtrack befitting of the pizzas that rock just as hard.
This Asheville, North Carolina based southern kitchen and bar opened to great anticipation, with their fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and shrimp and grits earning a reputation that preceded its arrival. If the other popular southern restaurant in town, Bubba, has taught us anything, it’s that Iowa Nice pairs well with Southern Hospitality, and we’ll flock to comfort food, no matter the region.
Located at the base of the Krause Gateway Center across from Pappajohn Sculpture Park, this new breakfast and lunch spot is anything but standard work cafeteria fare. Instead, you’ll find avocado toast, biscuit sandwiches with prosciutto, and carefully crafted pastas like basil and lemon gnocchi and seasonal carbonara. This hidden gem is only open until 1 p.m. on weekdays, so plan your breakfast and lunch outing accordingly.
We're addicted to the gooey goodness of Cinnaholic, the gourmet cinnamon roll franchise that’s now satisfying sweet tooths in the Historic East Village with their colossal concoctions. This 100% vegan bakery serves airy and soft cinnamon rolls that appease both traditionalists and those who roll on the wild side with flavors like caramel apple pie, campfire s’mores, and very berry. Better yet, customize your own creation by picking your frosting and toppings. Move over fancy cupcakes, there’s a new carb craze in town.
Make Grimes your destination to check out the hard-to-miss Destination Grille, whose great space makes it the perfect spot for large groups or events. And no matter what the tastes of your group, they’ll surely find something crave-worthy here, with everything from lobster rolls and burgers to pizzas and poke bowls. The real star of the show is the rooftop terrace, where you can sip on smoked cocktails, seasonal drinks, and local brews.
Wine lovers raised a glass in celebration upon the arrival of Cooper’s Hawk in Clive, which brings a little bit of Napa to the Midwest with their upscale casual restaurant, full-service bar, private dining room, and tasting room. Whether you’re a wine snob or a curious novice, there’s something for everyone, with samples of four wines starting at $10. Pair a glass of your new favorite vino with some of their upscale American dishes like soy ginger salmon, red wine braised short ribs, and country rigatoni.
It was love at first bite when Crumbl Cookies opened in January to two-hour lines (in an Iowa winter to boot!). The national cookie shop has built up quite the buzz, with people clamoring to get a taste of their sugary sweet treats, which are chewy on the inside with slightly crisp edges. It’s a place that demands repeat visits as well, with weekly rotating flavors from a cookbook of more than 170 recipes.
DZO Korean BBQ
Des Moines finally gets its first Korean barbeque restaurant with DZO, which means ‘cheers’ in Vietnamese. For the uninitiated, with Korean BBQ, you’re the chef, picking out cuts of marinated meat (think filet mignon and pork belly) and grilling them at your table, along with sides like rice, noodles, and egg rolls. It’s a concept long overdue and worth the wait.
Bars and Breweries
Arguably the buzziest opening of the past year, this East Village hotspot is the brainchild of restauranter Jason Simon (Alba, Eatery A, Motley School Tavern, Parlor), who recruited Chef Matt Small of Alba to provide his creative take on Mexican fare in the former Continental space. Corn is the star here (when in Iowa), with organic masa providing the cornerstone for many of the dishes. Highlights include sweet corn esquites, lobster taquitos, Berkshire pork shank, and a taco bar with choices like braised short rib and sweet potato.
Big Grove Brewery
The opening of the new taproom from popular Iowa City brewery Big Grove was a big deal. The 12,000-square-foot taproom in Sherman Hill is housed in the former Crescent Chevrolet building (they even kept the sign) and features two large bars and a patio with firepits and views of downtown and Ingersoll Avenue. They feature a full food menu and their popular beers like Easy Eddy, with an added focus on experimental brews that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s also right across from Lua Brewing. Sunday funday, anyone?
The newest addition to the bustling Prairie Trail in Ankeny, 30hop started in Coralville before expanding to Cedar Rapids, and now Ankeny. As the name implies, beer is the star of the show here, with plenty of interesting local beers to check into your Untapp’d app. But don’t sleep on the food, with elevated appetizers like Bang Bang Brussels and Kitchen Fries, along with burgers, shrimp po boys, and because this is Iowa, a killer tenderloin.
Maggie’s Rumble Room
The space that was formerly the home to local hangout Sambetti’s is now the home to Maggie’s Rumble Room, a neighborhood bar with vintage vibes and made-to-order pizzas. Featuring vintage music posters, motorcycle memorabilia, and the front of an old car above the jukebox, the hotrod vibes pair nicely with the piping hot pizzas, including the El Camino (sausage, green pepper, onion, mushroom) and White Lightning (sausage, pesto, ricotta, pepperoni, artichoke hearts).
Paws & Pints
Man’s best friend got a best new place to hang with the opening of Paws & Pints, a 33,000-square-foot “canine retreat” located just south of Water Works Park. The two-legged set can enjoy a full bar with more than 20 beers on tap, a menu featuring sandwiches, salads, and street tacos, a coffeehouse, and bagels courtesy of 5 Borough Express. Their four-legged friends will love the 16,000-square-foot dog park, a grooming spa and hotel, and even dog training services. It’s a regular doggie Disneyland!
Pots & Shots
We thought we had seen just about food and drink concept imaginable, but then along comes Pots & Shots and now we must recalibrate everything we thought we knew to be true. Part plant shop and part cocktail bar, it’s like a bar inside of the world’s coolest botanical garden. Sip on an Instagrammable craft cocktail like the Pink Princess or Morning Jam Session while perusing their shop for that pretty plant that will really tie your space together. Finally, shopping under the influence that doesn’t come with next day regrets.
503 Tasting Lab + Tasting Room
The owner and chef behind local favorite Table 128 brought a modern cocktail bar and tasting lounge to the East Village, and the reception has been as impressive as the space and cocktails that it serves. With a mix of contemporary and classic cocktails and casual small plates, it’s the perfect place to start or finish the night.
FAMILIAR FACES, NEW LOCATIONS (OR NAMES)
• The Breakfast Club (West Des Moines)
• The Continental (E 5th Steet)
• Little Brother (formerly RC’s Diner)
• Twisted Vine (East Village)
• Mad Meatball (Gray’s Station)
• BLU Thai and Sushi (Western Gateway)
• Gusto Pizza (Ingersoll Ave)